News / Europe

Spain Dismisses ETA Cease-Fire

Spain's Interior Minister said Monday a cease-fire declaration from the Basque separatist group ETA is "insufficient". The armed group announced its ceasefire on Sunday.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told Spanish television that ETA's cease-fire statement falls far short of what the government demands.

ETA sent a video to the BBC that was aired on Sunday. In it three masked militants sit behind a table. Speaking in the Basque language, one says ETA will no longer use offensive armed action.

The militant says it is a decision that was taken by the groups some months ago.

But the group did not say how long the cease-fire would last or if and when they would hand over their weapons.

Minister Rubalcaba said it was not enough . He said the announcement comes at a moment of "extreme weakness" for the separatists, following a major crackdown by Spanish and French police. The group has not carried out a deadly attack in Spain since August of last year.

The group has been fighting a separatist campaign since the 1960s and in that time has killed over 800 people.

But this is not the first time they have announced a cease-fire. Peace negotiations began in 2006 after ETA promised to end its violent tactics. But talks ended in December of the same year after ETA killed two people in a car bomb attack.

Since then the government has said it would not negotiate unless ETA makes a full-fledged statement that it will lay down arms forever.

In Spain, some people are optimistic this will mark the beginning of peace. But many have reacted cautiously.

ETA is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. Its aim is to win an independent Basque nation made up of a northwest region of Spain and three departments in southwest France.

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